ANAND &MADHURA KATTI TRAVEL TO BORNEO RAINFOREST AND GIVE US THIS FASCINATING ACCOUNT.

Strong guy Ritchie ruled the roster from atop a tall tree in the Borneo rainforest. He stared at the spectators, threw some twigs below and watc

hed for any reactions. After confirming of peace and safety, he swayed his bulky, brown hair body across the tree, signalling a safe passage for the rest of the lot follow.

The orangutan, literally meaning, alt39 the man of the forestalt39 ( in Malay) had proved his leadership minutes after we had spotted him between the branches of the Semenggoh wildlife centre near Kuching.

We were trying to focus our cameras on the fickle movements of endangered Asian ape. Guide Kenny had cautioned us to keep a distance of at least five meters from orangutans, for they could harm us with their strong arms.

” We try to make them hate us, human beings,” said Rahman, the ranger at the wildlife park.

How could they make these affectionate and intelligent primates to repel? ” Thats the toughest part of our job. We have to do that to protect the endangered species from getting attached to humans and staying back here. We want them to return to their natural habitats deep inside the rainforest.” The park rangers tended to 26 orangutans at the rehabilitation centre.

It was fun to watch Delima and her three- year- old baby leap across the rope swinging on the branches with their long arms. They were heading to the tree trunk platform where bananas and carrots were served. The baby swayed further, tried swings and somersaults, while waiting for mama to come along. When it got tired, it clung to Delimas chest for a free ride.

Orangutan mothers carry babies for three years and continue to monitor them till they are 5- 7 years old. Hence orangutans give birth to only three or four babies in their 45- year lifespan. They return to the same male partner to conceive the next baby. Pregnancy lasts for nine months.

Few more orangutans were spotted among the top branches on the other side. Orangutans have longer fingers with four ligaments, unlike three in humansalt39 and their arms are much stronger. Their feet have four long toes and an opposable big toe; thus helping them grasp things with both their hands and their feet. They can eat up to five kilos of food at a time and can sustain for 18 hours after that. They donalt39t feed them enough at the park, so that they go to wild in search of food. Orangutans make fresh nests every day by joining top branches and foliage for a night sleep.

Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, orangutans are currently found only in rainforests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Only about five thousand orangutans are expected to be found in Sarawak and another 25,000 in total, according to a survey done prior to 1997 bushfire. Local tribes fiercely protect them. Rahman said: ” Iban ( a tribe in Sarawak) people might even kill you if you touch orangutans.

We have got a few orangutans from timber farm owners who find them in their precincts.” Rainforest of Borneo is next only to the Amazon jungles in terms of the variety of rear flora and fauna.

We were happy to spot a few varieties of the pitcher plant colonies at the visitor centre of the Semenggoh wildlife park. The green, tubes like plants with brown spots were hanging on to the tree with tendrils.

The carnivorous plants have a thick leaf standing attached to a side of the mouth, like an open lid.

Museum housed everything related to the feline pets, including a few stuffed dead cats, cat statues, information on their importance in different times of history and cat related stories. Its an apt place for those who have or intend to have cats as pets.

We had arrived at the community residential block of alt39 Bidayuhalt39 tribes after a drive for an hour ( from

Kuching) through the rainforest.

Bidayu is significant among the 27 ethnic rainforest tribes or alt39 Orang Ulualt39 ( remote/ native people) of Sarawak. The Orang

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